Successful Outcome on Medicare Part D Reminds Us Why Advocacy is Important

By Chuck Ingoglia, Senior Vice President of the National Council for Behavioral Health In January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) surprised the patient and provider community when it issued a proposed rule seeking to make unprecedented changes to the successful and popular Medicare Part D drug program.   One of the most concerning of these proposed changes was the introduction of new criteria to evaluate the “drug classes of clinical concern,” most commonly referred to as the six protected classes.  These six “protected” classes of medications were identified by CMS… Read More

Keeping Prescription Drugs Accessible

The Medicare Prescription Drug program, Medicare Part D, has been a successful public-private program that has literally changed lives by providing improved access to prescription drugs.  We believe it works for the seniors who rely on it and that its competitive, market-based structure has kept overall program costs low.  For these reasons, we have suggested:  Don’t mess with success. We do not support policy proposals that suggest altering the benefit structure for those who receive Part D’s low-income subsidy (LIS).  These patients are among the most vulnerable in the program and stand… Read More

Take Time to Evaluate Options During Medicare Part D Enrollment

With Medicare enrollment now open, seniors across the country have an opportunity to select the Part D prescription drug plan that best suits their needs and budgets – and that may mean making a change from the previous year. However, a recently issued Kaiser Family Foundation report indicates that on average, only 30 percent of Medicare Part D enrollees choose to switch plans during the annual enrollment period.  The same study showed that the average premium is expected to increase by five percent across all prescription drug plans from 2013 to 2014,… Read More

Survey: Medicare Rx program highly popular

The Medicare prescription drug benefit is still popular after all these years. Nine in 10 seniors with Medicare prescription drug coverage are satisfied with the program, and 97 percent said their coverage works well, according to a survey released by Medicare Today. Among the survey’s other findings: 96 percent said they felt “peace of mind” by having prescription drug coverage under Medicare, known as Part D. 95 percent said their plan is convenient to use. 84 percent said both their premiums and co-pays are affordable. 88 percent said their Part D plan… Read More

Medicare Part D: Don’t Mess with Success

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then the federal government should be flattered that states have begun using the market-based structure of the highly successful Medicare Part D program as a model for their Medicaid programs.  Peter Pitts, a former associate commissioner with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, addresses examples of states providing Medicaid services through private insurers in an op-ed appearing in The Philadelphia Inquirer. It is the competition from private insurers in the Medicare Part… Read More

National Council on Aging honors AstraZeneca

In 2007, the National Council on Aging, with support from AstraZeneca, created My Medicare Matters, a community-based education and outreach initiative whose goal was to help people with Medicare and their families better understand the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Today, My Medicare Matters helps many of the more than 40 million people with Medicare, 90 percent of all beneficiaries, with comprehensive prescription drug coverage, which helps provide high-quality and high-value healthcare to America’s seniors. To acknowledge AstraZeneca’s leadership in this area, the National Council on Aging chose to honor AstraZeneca and Linda… Read More

Increased Rx use offsets medical services costs in Medicare

A new report by The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recognizes the effect of medicines in offsetting medical services costs for people with Medicare. Based on their analysis of the costs and use of prescription drugs and other medical services covered through Medicare, the CBO plans to incorporate the offsetting savings associated with prescription drug use in budget estimates of policies affecting Medicare. Going forward, CBO will assume that any policy that would result in a 1 percent increase in the number of prescription drugs filled in Medicare would correspondingly decrease the spending… Read More

2013 Medicare premiums steady as open enrollment begins

It’s that time of year again – open enrollment period for the Medicare program, allowing seniors and other beneficiaries to review, compare and update their health choices, including their prescription drug benefit. Open enrollment begins today and lasts through Dec. 7. And there’s good news for beneficiaries as they pick their plan: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says the average monthly Medicare prescription drug premium for 2013 will be $30 – virtually unchanged for the past three years and 50 percent lower than initial projections. Since 2006, the Medicare prescription… Read More

Seniors satisfied with Medicare prescription drug program

Medicare Today released its 2012 beneficiary satisfaction survey results Wednesday, providing additional evidence that the Medicare prescription drug benefit offers seniors affordable, effective access to the medicines they need. The survey found that overall satisfaction with the benefit known as Part D has increased from 78 percent to 90 percent since the program was first implemented. With 90 percent beneficiary satisfaction and average monthly premiums remaining virtually unchanged over the past three years, Medicare Part D is working for seniors and helping our government control costs by reducing healthcare system spending. More than… Read More

Congress Should Repeal IPAB

AstraZeneca is urging Congress to support legislation sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) established by the health reform law. IPAB would have the authority to cut Medicare spending if spending exceeds specified targets. As created, implementation of IPAB’s recommendations is exempt from both judicial and administrative review and is fast-tracked through Congress. IPAB’s virtually unchecked authority to cut Medicare spending represents a clear threat to patient care. Without real congressional oversight, the board has the power to reduce Medicare spending at the expense of… Read More